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20th Century Fox presents
Fight Club (1999)

"You met me at a very strange time in my life."
- Jack (Ed Norton)

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: May 20, 2000

Stars: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt
Other Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf
Director: David Fincher

Manufacturer: Digital Video Compression Center
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing and graphic depiction of violent anti-social behavior, sexuality and language.
Run Time: 02h:19m:02s
Release Date: June 06, 2000
UPC: 024543000358
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ AAA A

DVD Review

Few directors challenge an audience with as much commercial success as David Fincher. Hitchcock—the master—did it with aplomb. Lynch did it, but his movies have become a near caricature of his former artistry, instead malevolently underlining his desire to unsettle. Perhaps Fincher, in time, will fall into this rut as well, but for now—since Alien 3—he has created three memorable films in a row: Se7en, The Game and now, Fight Club.

If there is a movie that requires a second viewing it is Fight Club, because it is the The Sixth Sense on drugs, The Sixth Sense grown up. The Sixth Sense is a movie—entertaining, interesting—and when it's over, it's over. Fight Club is a movie with a purpose—to awaken the living undead we have all become. Fight Club is the perfect metaphor, perhaps the perfect end of the Twentieth Century parable, to lead us into the Twenty-first Century and beyond. And Fincher has wrapped all this up in a hip, super-charged, darkly amusing—yet truthful—feast.

"If you want to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs."
-Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt)

Forget about the overt violence. This is not intended to be a glorification of violence; it is more a catalyst that challenges us to find what it is that can prevent us from becoming complacent, now, in a world where every luxury is no farther than our fingertips. We don't need to get up to change the channel. We don't need to leave the house to find out what is happening in Sri Lanka. It is not about destroying property, but tearing down the walls that we think control us—to become brave enough to pull back the curtain and discover the Great Oz is just a little frightened man with a loud microphone. It's the story behind the story, that thing that clings when all else falls away—the enlightenment. If you can't see past the violence, you're missing this powerful, provocative message.

As Tyler Durden says,"The things you own end up owning you."... God, don't I know it: eight years back, the coachhouse I lived in with two friends burned to the ground. The sense of immediate loss was overwhelming. However, as the days passed, I felt a strange and glorious sense of relief—the experience of being "freed" of my possessions. But too soon, that innate nesting instinct returned, and (though not via an Ikea catalogue) I began to rebuild my possessions, just like the wonderful pseudo-advertisement scene from the movie—only not so slowly.... And now, here I sit, typing this on my ridiculously expensive laptop, in front of my 45" TV, and complete (albeit low end range) DTS/DD5.1 setup, not too far from the overflowing shelves and piles of my DVD obsession, er, collection.

God do I know. This site didn't get its name by accident!

So, what can we, as a species of self-centered, money-grubbing, stuff-hoarding, blinder-wearing, herd-mentality, living undead do to break through the artificial barriers our "civilized" society has created to keep us harnessed? How do we strip ourselves of the adornments, the accoutrements? I don't know, go make some soap? Or start a Fight Club in our head.

"You may find yourself in a beautiful house,/ With a beautiful wife./ You may ask yourself: Well, how did I get here?"
-David Byrne, Talking Heads, from the song Once in a Lifetime

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This is a very nice transfer, perhaps Fox's best to date. The Digital Video Compression Center created an image that is crisp and colorful (when not purposely muted), without color bleed, and with little obvious edge enhancement. The blacks appear true, shadow delineation excellent. There are occasional small starbursts from minor scars, but negligible—I was looking for them. I must go see this on a progressive player on a widescreen High-Definition TV before the weekend is out.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The best part of the disc rests here. A wonderful track, albeit on the loud side, but even this down point seems justified when the screenwriter (Jim Uhls) on his commentary track insists the music (at least for the opening brain-ride) sequence SHOULD be loud. The dialogue is well rendered in the center channel, mostly, but separation and placement of sound is well represented throughout the film. Gunshots, car accidents and explosions rip the room apart and put you smack dab into the action. The surrounds are very active, and play a major role in this highly immersive soundtrack. Panning, 360-degree effects, and excellent placement of sound serve to underscore and add to the power of the overall film. I'm trying not to, but may have to add a plus sign to this grade sooner rather than later.

I have no other place to put this, so I'm shoving it here. While listening to the writer commentaries and reviewing the transfer I notice at ch1, 06m:18s, there is a single frame of Tyler (Pitt) behind the doctor after he tells Jack to go see the guys at the testicular cancer meeting. Now I am on a search and find mission, like Easter eggs within the film! Other spottings: ch1, 04m:04s; ch1, 07m:32s. It isn't until I listen to the Fincher and actor group commentary that I hear them discuss adding the subliminal introduction of the Tyler Durden character. Very cool. You have to appreciate such foresight.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
3 Original Trailer(s)
17 TV Spots/Teasers
7 Deleted Scenes
Storyboard
4 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1) director David Fincher; 2) David Fincher, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter; 3) Chuck Palahniuk (novel) and Jim Uhls (screenplay); 4) ) Alex McDowell, Jeff Cronenweth, Michael Kaplan, Kevin Haug and Doc Bailey
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Storyboards
  2. Principal photography and behind-the-scenes footage
  3. Concept Art
  4. Advertising and Publicity stills and video
  5. Behind-the-scenes photos
Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

If the medium is the message then this one is received from Fincher and Fox loud and clear. This is one amazing release from end to end. I won't keep going on and on about it—just go buy it. Period. It may not be for everyone, but it should be.

My dental hygienist told me she was bored when she saw Fight Club in the theater, that she thought it was a guy flick. Not a chance. This is a powerful movie—with a poignancy far beyond the apparent—call it message by film terrorism. The supplements second the realization that David Fincher is in absolute masterful control over every aspect of this film, and that his, Norton's, Pitt's and Carter's performances were all Oscar® worthy.

Maybe 50 years from now the world will have changed enough that this film will seem like the silly scolding of a child, but for now it is a message not to be ignored.

 


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